Hastily enough, Zoran Zaev’s proposal to renaming the Republic of Macedonia into Republika Illindenska Makedonija was dismissed by most Greek political parties.
Above all, the rejection of the proposal in the heat of the moment primarily highlights the lack of seriousness of the political world and secondly to their little knowledge of history.
The absolute rejection of the Zaev proposal cannot be considered a serious treatment by Greek politicians, since they did not even examine the pros and cons of a proposal that, perhaps, suits most of the Greek requirements.
History’s little knowledge or its distortion, a common phenomenon not only in Greece, has created multiple problems in neighbouring states, especially in the Balkan region where, there has been an osmosis between groups with indistinguishable national characteristics due to the fact that many states were under the Ottoman Empire for five centuries.
The uprising of Ilinden in 1903 had as its direct objective the depreciation of the Ottoman yoke for the same reasons as rebellions in all regions of the Balkans, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria etc. Violence, oppression of the rural population, feudal relations, tax collecting etc. were some of the issues that created the necessary conditions for revolt and self-determination. At the same time, in the rest of Western Europe we have national revolutions that have historically been characterized as the Spring of Nations.
Ilinden’s rebellion took place in the vilayets of the Ottoman Empire of Bitola, Thessaloniki and Adrianopolis. The vilayet of Bitola is inhabited at that time according to the record of Russian Consul A. Rostkovski by 800 thousand, with the Greek Orthodox population being close to 100 thousand, 250 thousand people of Albanian descent, 200 thousand Slavs, 100 thousand Ottomans and 50 thousand Vlachs.
In the vilayet of Thessaloniki, according to the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt in 1912, the inhabitants amount to 922 thousand. The Greek Orthodox are about 168 thousand, Turkish Muslims 335 thousand, Bulgarian Christians and Muslims 145 thousand, Jews 55 thousand and Vlachs Christians and Muslims about 200 thousand.
Finally, in the vilayets of Adrianopolis, according to the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt, the population is about 1 million with the Greeks being 220 thousand Turks 250 thousand and Bulgarian Christians and Muslims about 485 thousand.
The main objective of Illinden’s uprising was the liberation of the three vilayets of the Turks. Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria were after these areas, which, whose population was a mixture of national and religious groups, as the aforementioned record proves. An area which back then, at the time of the Illinden uprising belongs to the nearly fallen Ottoman Empire.
This claim by the three countries and, to a lesser extent, by Romania due to the Vlachs of the region, resulted in the struggle (1904-1908) of the Greeks against the Bulgarian militia, which wanted to violently bulgarise the population of the region and continued with the First Balkan War.
Where does the Macedonian irredentism against Greece stem from under the name Ilinden Makedonija, which so easily Greek political parties attributed to?
For the first time we have a name that has no irredentist aspirations for Greece. For the first time a name will be used erga omnes. For the first time there is a basis for a definitive solution to the name problem. A name that irrevocably separates the Greekness of ancient Macedonia from the geographical region of Macedonia that covers most of the Republic of Macedonia.
Zoran Zaev provided Greece with whatever he could and was allowed to give in this negotiation. Perhaps, for the first time, we have come so close to a solution that is decent for both sides.
There is no room for ignorant-of-history positions. We should not be trapped in the past, which we usually read the wrong way, an instead build a future without ghosts. The disputes with Bulgaria have been overcome, disputes that were all but bloodless in the modern history of Greece, like it happened with those with Germany and Italy.
I think that both Upper and New Macedonia hide more irredentism from Ilindenska Makedonija, because they suggest either a continuity from Ancient Macedonia with ties to customs, traditions, culture or as a divided state that should be reunified over time. As for Vardarska, with or without Makedonija, it concerns the Axios river and the valley it creates, near its end in Thessaloniki.